So, the non-allergic reactions occasioned by your non-immunodisorder have conspired to keep you home, again. You will no more be attending the Sanctuary reunion on Saturday night than you were able to attend the Hellfire Club Halloween party (living as far south as you can and still claim to be in Sydney is also a factor). The humidity is vile and the cats are sulking. So what's to be done? Time for a goth's night in!
Now, obviously you can light candles, wear fingerless gloves and play The Tea Party at a reasonable volume or in headphones. But on nights like this, that's simply not enough. It will not assuage the craving, the soul-deep hunger, to break free from the everyday and stalk the night in your true guise. To twist and turn, one of a black-clad coterie in a fog-shrouded maze, lit only by green lasers.
I once staged a very small goth club in my apartment for a film shoot (this was the same one that involved having three coffins in my garage). I draped every visible surface (except the dart board) in black cloth, set out my skulls, strung some cobwebs, put a red gel over the light and there it was. This option is available to you, to the extent your cats will permit. With corset on, eyes half-closed, and Temptation thundering in your ears, the illusion can be quite convincing. After all, you don't actually need to talk to anyone. But nonetheless, after a while of doing this the irresistible truth filters through: it is not the same. There is a real difference between pretending to be alone in a crowd of people, and gyrating on your own in a corner of the study. And dancing in headphones is dangerous. Don't ask how I know this.( Read more...Collapse )
Spectral Realms #4 is now available from Hippocampus Press!
This would be cause for celebration in any case, but I am particularly happy it contains my new poem, "The Stone of Sacrifice". As well as Margi Curtis's "The Ghosts of Samhain Past", Leigh Blackmore's "The Adverse Star" and "Souls of Samhain", a "Weird Tale" by Charles Danny Lovecraft, along with new works by Wade German, ankh_hpl, Ashley Dioses, KA Opperman, Adam Bolivar and many, many others!
This marks my second appearence in this journal, edited by S. T. Joshi and devoted to the darkly poetical. You may order a copy through this link here.
"The Stone of Sacrifice" is the direct result of attending the Aztecs exhibition at the Australian Museum in Sydney. That's on College Street, Sydney, for you Cthulhu buffs. I've been going there for decades and have never found the statue, but this time I at least found inspiration.
"You may well wonder how the stone survived.
Wasn't it destroyed? Wasn't it cast down
when soldiers sanctified by shot and steel
arrived to slaughter its red-handed priests
and sacked their city, melted down their gold?
And how could it endure the missionaries
that raised their cross upon the temple steps?
Then followed the accretion of clay brick,
of roads and rails, and concrete at the last..."
The Art of Effective Dreaming, Gillian Polack, Satalyte Publishing
Aurora, Kim Stanley Robinson, Orbit
Persona, Genevieve Valentine, Saga
The Just City, Jo Walton, Tor
"What Has Passed Shall in Kinder Light Appear", Bao Shu, trans. Ken Liu, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, March/April
The Box Jumper, Lisa Mannetti, Smart Rhino Publications
Binti, Nnedi Okorafor, a Tor.com book
"And The Balance In Blood", Elizabeth Bear, Uncanny #7
"Precious Things", V. H. Leslie, The Outsiders, ed. Joe Mynhardt, Crystal Lake Publishing
"Ambiguity Machines: an Examination", Vandana Singh, Tor.com, 29 April
"Hot Rods", Cat Sparks, Lightspeed #58
The Greats: Masterpieces from the National Galleries of Scotland
An exhibition at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, viewed 9th January 2016.
When I stepped into the final chamber, it was like a swarm of some glittering, humming insects clinging to the left hand wall. It drew me to it and there I stood with my friend Laura, gazing at a rendition of poplar trees beside a river. No deeper topic or focus, no great range of shades and those primarily green and blue. Yet I could not take my eyes away. It felt as if Poplars on the Epte, painted by Claude Monet in 1891, was rewiring my optic nerves.
There is nothing quite like seeing a work of art in the original. This is because no matter how carefully a print or photograph was taken, whatever pains were expended on the colours and tonal qualities, the paper stock and scale, it bears a relation to the original similar to that which canned fruit or vegetables bear to fresh. I find it's the same with music: no matter how much I love a recording, it is still canned music. All those glorious coffee table books in my library are canned art. This exhibition was a farmer's market.
I have never been to the National Gallery of Scotland. Neither, it seems, have I managed to see much Monet. And it was far from the only treasure in this compact yet wonderfully varied display, that commenced with a tiny piece of parchment on which Leonardo da Vinci had sketched a dog's paw. Some wonderfully curly dog with big, strong toes: a hunting hound, I have no doubt.
On the end wall of the same room was Mars, Venus and Cupid by Paolo Veronese, dated "about 1580". This was the wall and, in addition, clearly a studio piece with the models draped in textured fabrics and posed against a backdrop as lively as any stage set and bearing no little resemblance to 1890s photographic portrait. There was another dog, a little spaniel playfully mauling the child god, but the difference between this and the da Vinci could not have been more marked. Moreover, the tension between large and small, vision and composition, ran through the exhibit like currents.
"Heyla, heyla... c'mon, you know it now!"
"Heyla, heyla." The chant echoes back and forth, from the bedisked and furrowed ceiling of the Enmore Theatre, to the luminous blue stage. Row upon row of partially lit heads sway and sound, else glance around them with twitchy shoulders, as three layers of drumming abrades the third wall.
"Heyla... Heyla... you're doing voodo!" Never ceasing to drum, the central figure seems to smile with his entire body. "You're doing voodoo now!"
I came to The Tea Party so recently that I completely missed their reunion tour. I won't apologise for this: I spent my adolescence in a wasteland when it came to contemporary music, listening to Bach on cassette tape and attending the opera with my Nanna. When they toured last year upon the release of The Ocean at the End, I was in Europe, but now you may picture me travelling through Tuscany with Interzone Mantras playing as loud as my earbuds will permit in order to drown out the rest of the coach party.
But this is why I was so impressed with the T-shirt on the fellow standing two ahead of David and myself in the queue outside. It was the kind of grey that was originally black and the seams were splitting. Following a long list of locations and dates, it read THE EDGE OF TWILIGHT 1996. We were here, in the considerable humidity, to celebrate this album's 20th anniversary. Had this man really bought his T-shirt on that first tour, treasured it in some bottom drawer and resurrected it for the occasion? I might have tapped his fraying shoulder, and asked, except that the line started moving and I am besides, still shy.
The Tea Party are one of the most dazzlingly competent live acts that I have ever seen (which includes three different productions of The Magic Flute). How to explain what I mean? Perhaps I can cast it in literary terms. This trio are such superb co-writers, with such an eclectic vocabulary, that they can slip effortlessly from conventional, if evocative, third person perspective to omniscient narration, then quote relevant classics while engaging in intimate first person, and never once losing or confusing the reader: all this, in Jeff Martin's thrilling, dark-honey voice.( Read more...Collapse )